The Faces of Poaching: Cecil the Lion

In July 2015, the death of Cecil the lion sent shock waves across the world. The majestic Cecil first garnered international attention as part of an Oxford University project run by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Since 2008, WildCRU tracked Cecil’s movements in detail as he rose to dominance in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

“He became dominant there for a long time, and at one point he had 22 lions under him, which is about as big as a pride ever gets in Hwange,” lion researcher Brent Stapelkamp told The Telegraph in an interview.

National law protected Cecil from poaching within the confines of Hwange. A hunting party, however, allegedly lured the charismatic lion out of the park with fresh bait and wounded him with an arrow. After tracking Cecil for almost two more days, the party shot and killed him with a rifle.

By the time WildCRU researchers located Cecil’s remains, only a headless skeleton was left.

“Cecil was a glorious male lion, with a fascinating family history as he maintained a large pride. Just a few months ago we were thrilled to watch him at close quarters in the field, and so his seemingly illegal death is heartbreaking,” WildCRU Director David MacDonald said after Cecil’s death.

“However, our goal is to learn from it. Good can come from this if the world’s attention can lead to support for our work to improve lion conservation.” Read more at the Source

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